It’s one thing when some monkey-see-monkey-do goes wrong after some doofus botches an imitation of something seen on TV or in a movie or video game and leaves some hapless accomplice in idiocy in traction. That’s just the happenstance of either “somehow didn’t know better” or “did it anyway”.
On the other hand, nerds have no such delineating between Fantasy and Reality. It’s just that we sometimes see something especially cool and realize, “Wait, why COULDN’T we do that?” That’s the line between tragic-yet-comical ignorance and admirable, inventive brilliance.
YouTuber Allen Pan of Sufficiently Advanced doesn’t have a household name, but you’ve probably seen his work. This homespun engineer and tinkerer turned heads earlier this year when he employed a magnetic mechanism and biometric identification to craft an impressively detailed replica of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, that indeed only he could lift. With STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS now in theaters and already setting box office records in its sights, he took aim at a much less complicated but no less impressive project: a lightsaber flamethrower.
Here, we’re obliged to caution our audience: Pan’s flaming sword is not quite so mysterious in its mechanics as the fabled weapon of the Jedi and Sith – if we’re being honest, we were surprised at how simply it all comes together in this three-minute video – but it isn’t exactly elementary DIY weaponry. We do not recommend attempting this fabrication at home, but should you ignore our pleas, proceed with immense caution.
The build begins with a standard toy lightsaber casing, naturally. Pan fixed a nichrome ignition with a control switch for the syringe valve in a 3D-printed enclosure and, for a truly authentic touch, a sound-effects mechanism that sounds the classic lightsaber activation “whoosh” when the flame lights. The flame itself is the product of an ignited methanol-acetone fuel mixture lengthened by butane propellant. For a bit of proportional perspective as you watch Pan’s demo, remember that he stands 6’2″ tall (1.88 meters) and flame appears to extend about half that length. Wow.
By nature, the default “blade” burns an apropos blue. However, Pan demonstrated that adding boric acid to the mixture tints it with an equally impressive green shade.
Of course, Pan suavely lighting a cigarette off a lightsaber isn’t really a sufficient demonstration of his blade’s might. His unveiling concludes with slaying a few white balloons made up as Imperial stormtrooper heads before targeting a far more vile, nefarious foe: Pan satisfyingly sets Jar Jar Binks merrily ablaze as the Gungan scourge of the entire property seems to stare vacantly ahead in horror.